Scoop goes behind the scenes at the WA Ballet Centre in Maylands to see the team prepare for the upcoming run of The Great Gatsby.
It’s a beautiful, warm night when Scoop arrives at the WA Ballet Centre in Maylands for an exclusive backstage event that will explore the rehearsal process for the company’s upcoming production of The Great Gatsby.
After a warm welcome we head upstairs where choreographer David Nixon is putting the dancers through their paces. On the way in we pass props of glasses, cigarette holders and bottles, all symbols of the hedonistic 1920s setting, lined up, carefully labelled and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
The scene being rehearsed today is a party at Myrtle’s apartment. The dancers are poised and ready to run through it, but before they do, we’re given some background on the rehearsal process. Each dancer, David explains, creates a character with a backstory, enabling them to relate and interact with each other in a way that will make the performance authentic. A number of performers step forward and introduce themselves as these characters, explaining their relationship with Myrtle and how they feel to be at this extravagant party.
As the rehearsal gets underway, it’s clear to see why this process is so important. Ballet contains no dialogue, so all of the interaction between characters is done through movement and expression. The relationships between the characters are clearly defined, it’s easy to understand their motives and reasons for being at the party. Even without being pre-introduced to these characters, these elements of the performance still would have been apparent.
As the scene wraps up, David steps in and guides a number of the dancers through changes to steps and corrections that he wants to make. Even with the sparse set, lack of costumes and simple props, it’s easy to get a sense of the story. The choreography is stunning, combining 1920s dance styles with ballet to produce a truly unique performance. It’s extraordinary the things that dancers can do with their bodies, it looks effortless but there’s clearly a lot of skill and power involved.
Needless to say we’re eagerly anticipating opening night for The Great Gatsby. Once the costumes, props and set are added to the mix, there is little doubt that this is going to be a truly stunning production.
The Great Gatsby is at His Majesty’s Theatre from September 14-30. Find out more.